Notre Dame Basketball: Jerian Grant Named One of Five Finalists For Wooden Award


The John R. Wooden Award is given to the most outstanding college basketball player each season. On Monday they revealed the five finalists, and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant was on that list. While he isn’t likely to win the award, it is a great honor in regards to what he did for the Irish this season.

Of the five players, three are still playing in the NCAA tournament. Grant and the Irish were just recently eliminated in the Elite Eight. The three still active include Willie Cauley-Stein of Kentucky, Jahlil Okafor of Duke and Frank Kaminsky of Wisconsin. Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell rounds out the top five.

The numbers are likely to favor Kaminsky or Okafor–but Grant shouldn’t be dismissed. Of the five finalists, only Cauley-Stein averaged fewer points per game (Grant’s 16.8 to Cauley-Stein’s 9.3), but Grant also led the ACC in assists with 6.5 per game. Hypothetically, you could convert that on Grant’s shooting percentage to about six more points per game scored. But his game wasn’t about posting 20 points a night–it was about the journey he helped set his team on in the near upset of Kentucky.

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Every young athlete endures hardships, and some may not look at an academic violation costing you a year at Notre Dame as one–but Grant took that and turned it into something greater than himself. It wasn’t to improve his NBA Draft stock (but it didn’t hurt it). He could have transferred. He could have went and played in Europe. But he took his lumps and returned to finish what he started.

Graduating from the University of Notre Dame.

Grant has indelibly left his mark on this program, and coach Mike Brey has made it clear that this is a group that he will miss greatly. But in the end, whether Grant wins the Wooden Award or doesn’t–he’ll have the memories of this tournament run, which will sit nicely next to that degree from Notre Dame.

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